For no particular reason at all, I’m writing this post in a text editor within an Amiga emulator on the Raspberry Pi. Let me explain that a bit further – a very small circuit board sitting on top of the PC under the desk is running Linux, which is then running an emulator – simulating the hardware and operating system of a Commodore Amiga – a home computer from the late 1980s. The emulator has allowed me to connect a USB stick as a pretend hard-drive, that exists as a folder on the desktop of the Amiga – meaning I have a roundabout way of exporting the text at the end.
You’re probably wondering why on earth I’m bothering with any of it. I guess it’s partly an experiment – to remove distractions. Twenty eight years ago computers didn’t really “do” multi-tasking – so all this pretend computer can do is run a text editor. If anybody is old enough to remember MS-DOS, it’s kind of the same deal. Or not. The Amiga was years ahead of it’s time – Workbench (the Amiga operating system) allowed a primitive form of multi-tasking, although probably ground-breaking at the time.
The other reason for messing around with the emulator? (always a good reason with me) – is tinkering. I spent a couple of hours late last night playing around with the simulated Amiga, figuring out how to install it from scratch. I think perhaps the most impressive thing is the performance and cost comparison against the hardware this simulates. In the early 1990s, an Amiga 1200 would have cost about $500 – the Raspberry Pi costs about $35, and is in the region of ten times faster.
The Commodore Amiga has always interested me, because I didn’t have one. As mentioned before, our family had an Atari ST – originally bought for music, and never really used for it’s intended purpose. The Amiga was colossally expensive compared to the Atari – I can only remember one of my friends having one, and gazing at it in wonder when I visited his house.
Anyway. Here we are. I finally have my Amiga – a pretend Amiga of course, but it looks the same on the screen. I’ll admit to looking at E-Bay earlier today and scaring myself silly – it turns out retro computers have become collectable.